From Saturday 18 August to Sunday 16 September 2012, Lionel's Melbourne becomes an gastronomic adventure. Miss Chu, one of the city's popular eatery for Vietnamese rice paper rolls has joined the City of Melbourne in a delicious event that showcases the abundant local culinary creativity in celebration of Victoria's proud food history and the State Library of Victoria's Gusto! Exhibition. For Look.Stop.Taste, Miss Chu is serving up 2 rice paper rolls or dumplings accompanied by a glass of Gidget Chu wine at AUD13.50.
As I was in the vicinity of the eatery attending Andy Truong's Spring/Summer 2013 runway show as part of Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, I decided to stop and taste the offer from the self-proclaimed Queen of Rice Paper Rolls. Inspired by street food scenes of Vietnam, the interior is a neat and tidy tuckshop with orders filled out on a pad of paper menus. Seating is a row of small tables and wooden benches on one side and a long bar facing a semi-open kitchen on the opposite side. The menu was primarily Vietnamese with some items reflective of China and Taiwan.
Miss Chu offers a choice of 6 rice paper rolls for Look.Stop.Taste and I decided to bet on the roast duck with banana flower. The small plastic bottle of fish sauce that accompanied the neatly wrapped rolls remind of the same bottle of soy sauce that accompanies so many Japanese bento box meals. The ratio of duck to salad and vermicelli was well measured but I would have preferred a tad more of the tasty roasted meat. The rice rolls were clean and neat, making them excellent food on the run.
I decided to take up Miss Chu's Look.Stop.Taste offer of dumplings and the manager recommendation of the Shanghai Pork version. I was not expecting the Chinese or Taiwanese 'Xiao Long Bao' in a Vietnamese eatery. Miss Chu's version had a different skin texture, no soupy filling and floating in a pool of soy sauce. The skin was too thick and dense for my liking by the pork filling was rich and soft to the bite. Compare to some of the self-proclaimed authentic Chinese dumpling places around the city, these dumplings were still better.
Miss Chu, created by Laotian-born Vietnamese Nahji Chu is an import from Sydney which seems to be doing well in Melbourne, perhaps because of its casual modern Asian concept and tasty food. The manager told me that lunch was non-stop ordering and cooking madness so I was glad the Miss Chu promotion was between 2pm to 6pm when the crowds thinned out and I could savour the morsels and enjoy the décor.